Emotional eating has nothing to do with hunger. It’s a psychological thing – yet it affects our physiology too, provoking weight gain and making it harder for us to stay healthy. Usually, emotional eating causes us to eat fatty food, sweets, and so on. However even if you are somehow able to replace junk food with healthy snacks, the pattern still stays there. And such pattern isn’t healthy by any means.
There are a couple of ways to identify emotional eating. First, you eat not because you are hungry but because you feel something. Various unpleasant emotions like sadness, anger, boredom, anxiety or loneliness trigger emotional eating, encouraging you to suppress them with food.
Second, the whole eating process isn’t as enjoyable as you hoped it would be. While there’s no specific emotional pattern, such type of eating usually is either mindless or unpleasant. Often people eat without even paying much attention to it – for example when you eat popcorn while watching a TV show. And often people do register what they eat during their emotional outbreaks only to feel guilty and disgusted with themselves because of it (as this food is rarely healthy).
However, punishing yourself is not the best possible way to stop emotional eating (moreover, it might not work at all). Instead of being harsh to yourself, try using these 5 tips to get rid of unhealthy eating habits.
Knowing why you indulge into emotional eating is one of the best ways to stop it. In order to do so, you have to analyze your eating habits. First, write down the time you eat. Second, write down the reason.
Do you eat because you’re hungry? Or do you do it because you’re angry, sad, etc.? If you realize it’s hunger causing you to eat, try evaluating it on a scale from 1 to 10. If you think that you eat because you experience certain emotions, try to define these emotions.
Most of the time our emotional eating is caused by one or two specific emotions. Identifying these emotions is crucial for stopping this problem.
When the urge to eat emerges again, try to identify the exact emotion. Then allow yourself to actually feel that emotion instead of pushing it away. While this definitely won’t be pleasant, this actually helps you deal with emotions of such kind more easily in the future. Moreover, living through that emotion is enough for you to feel a bit relieved. In this case, you might not need emotional eating to silence your thoughts and feelings.
If you recognize that you have a tendency for emotional eating, do your best to minimize all the temptations. Even if you want to indulge into comforting yourself with food, this could be hard (if not impossible) if you don’t have any “right” food nearby.
Usually, emotional eaters prefer food that isn’t healthy so you can minimize the risks simply by not keeping any junk food and sweets around. Take healthy snacks with you at work. Try to plan your routes so you won’t stumble upon a doughnut shop or a burger restaurant on your way somewhere. Don’t keep any unhealthy food home.
While it won’t guarantee you refraining from emotional eating completely, it could still help you minimize it even if a bit. If we have to drive or walk somewhere to get our comfort food, we might refrain from it.
There are plenty of ways to brighten our mood that don't include food consumption. They are much healthier and probably even more effective. The only advantage emotional eating holds upon them is that it’s a habit – and so we turn to it first.
However, just like any other habit, this one can be changed. The best way to do so is to replace it with something else.
In order to do so, think of things that make you happy. Maybe drawing or meditation relaxes you. Maybe taking a nice hot bath helps you feel less tired and stressed after a hard work day. Maybe physical exercises brighten up your mood and give your more energy.
Choose one or two activities and try indulging into them each time you crave comfort food. Sure, it might not be easy at first but as long as you are mindful and analyze your cravings, you’ll be able to do so.
Indulging yourself into emotional eating means that you give food a lot of value and power over your life. Instead of being a tool to keep your body healthy and full of energy, food becomes an addiction. It causes you to gain weight. It often makes you feel guilty too. And while it might help you at the moment, it does a lot of damage in the long run.
Understanding this and keeping this in mind is very important. If you do so, you’ll have more power over your cravings. You’ll be able to ask yourself “Am I willing to sacrifice my health and happiness for a moment of guilty pleasure?” and make healthier decisions because of that.
Analyzing the real reasons behind your eating, being mindful to the whole food consumption process and attentive to yourself during the times of stress is what can help you get rid of unhealthy eating habits, stay healthy, and find new amazing ways to comfort yourself when you’re tired of stress. Hopefully, this article will help you with all of that!